From November 6th through November 8th I was at my Mid-Service Conference at Ridar Hotel. One of the most memorable moments for me was sitting in the lounge area by the pool (which had a large flatscreen tv) and watching live election coverage (on CNN). It was a surreal experience to be in Uganda and see the US election results and Obama's acceptance speech (midnight in Chicago is 9:00am here) - after living abroad and witnessing other political "elections", I felt very proud of my country and thankful that I have the right to vote. And on the bus ride back to Arua, the man sitting next to me thanked me for electing Obama again. :) The choices we make truly affect others around world.
One of the conference sessions about "what to do after the end of our service" and was given by a few Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. They talked briefly about their different types of jobs (US Embassy, public health work in South Sudan, foreign service, etc.), but what they all said without hesitation was GRAD SCHOOL! While the Peace Corps experience is great to have on the resume, the type of international jobs (and global health work) available requires a Master's Degree. It just reaffirmed my thought that I'll be going back to school when I return to the US.
We have a committee called the Volunteer Action Committee (VAC), who meet with Peace Corps administration to discuss concerns from PCVs. It's one of the only ways for us (volunteers) to openly talk about policies, challenges, etc. with the admin staff. I volunteered to be a new representative for my training group (after my rep left the Peace Corps) - my group accepted and now I am officially on the VAC Committee. I hope to help clarify issues from both sides of the table because there is huge disconnect between staff and volunteers right now.
I was hoping to sit down with Shiphrah, my program manager, to talk about my lack of work at Kuluva. Unfortunately, she decided to take her annual leave during our conference, so I didn't get to see her. I did speak with Cotious, her assistant, who told me that the volunteers placed at nursing schools were supposed to work part-time at the school and part-time at the hospital. I informed her that the school is completely unaware of this and we will have to sit down with Sister Anne and explain that I should be working at the hospital too. (*This meeting may not happen until December or January with all of the upcoming travel plans and holidays.)
After all the Peace Corps sessions were finished, we rightfully took advantage of the bar and swimming pool to celebrate our one year of service . . . and November birthdays.
The 32-year olds of the group.
We celebrated our 33rd birthdays, Katie - November 8th, Brian - December 11th,
and me - November 14th.
Since Katie's birthday was actually during our Mid-Service Conference, she requested an 80's dance party that night. DONE!! We rocked out to The Bangles, INXS, Michael Jackson, Belinda Carlisle, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Madonna, and just about every other one-hit-wonder from the 80's.
"I wear my sunglasses at night . . . "